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Keep using your face covering urges Warwickshire health chief

Keep wearing your face covering, get vaccinated and continue testing is the message from Warwickshire’s top health chief, ahead of the easing of national restrictions next week.

Virus image (49284244)
Virus image (49284244)

This week the Herald spoke to Dr Shade Agboola, director of Public Health Warwickshire, about the impact the easing of national restrictions could have in the county and how residents should act after next Monday.

Dr Agboola said: “The easing of restrictions will see us start to return to a more normal way of life but we all need to learn to live with the virus, Covid has not gone away. Infection rates in Warwickshire have risen by around 350 per cent in the last three weeks, so I do have concerns going into the 19th, the risk is still there. When restrictions are eased, we can expect to see a rise in cases.

“My advice on face coverings is that just because they are no longer compulsory doesn’t mean they are not effective, they protect us and I would urge people to continue wearing them in shops and on public transport.

“We should all still be following the advice on washing hands, getting vaccinated and ensuring there is good ventilation when you meet up with people.

“In terms of vaccination it is key, it reduces the risk of people getting seriously ill. At the moment we are seeing a low vaccine take-up rate among 18-29-year-olds and we are putting a lot of effort into targeting this group. Everyone over the age of 18 can now have the vaccine so I would urge people to get it.”

Earlier this month the health secretary Sajid Javid warned that Covid cases could to as many as 100,000 per day nationally in the summer.

Dr Agboola said: “We are doing our best to prepare for a rise in cases, but we don’t want numbers to rise as much as has been suggested, if people are responsible and do the right thing, hopefully case numbers will be lower.

“Access to testing has changed and we have modified our testing sites because of this. You can now pick up tests free-of-charge from your pharmacy or order them online.

“The bubbles in schools will be coming to an end soon and the holidays are almost here, our approach in schools has always been evidence based focused on keeping children safe. I would add that schools have done a fantastic job in keeping as many pupils in school as possible.

“There is a lot of preparation going on in the NHS looking at bed occupancy when we go into the winter months and Warwickshire County Council is working really hard to try and put resources into the right areas for when we move into winter.

“My advice to residents going forward is to stick to the ‘hands, face, space’ advice and continue using your face covering, it all still protects you and is especially important in enclosed spaces or when you’re near large numbers of people.

“Make sure you get vaccinated, especially 18-29-year-olds, and keep getting tested, it’s easy and you need to think about it if you’re going into work or meeting with people.”

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